‘INNER NATURE’, 07 MAY – 01 JUN 2015
“He allowed himself to be swayed by his conviction that human beings are not born once and for all on the day their mothers give birth to them, but that life obliges them over and over again to give birth to themselves.” ― Gabriel Garcia Marquez “Love in the time of Cholera”
The matter of an ‘inner nature’ has been the topic of interest by artists and philosophers alike for centuries. From Plato and Aristotle to Descartes and Rousseau; Kafka and Nietzsche we have been obsessed with the self, whether we see the self as a means by which we can understand the way in which people see us or we see them. To note Jacques Lacan’s notion of the mirror phase of human socio-development, the moment that we first recognise ourselves in a mirror as separate from the bodies that are our mothers and fathers we are made aware of the schism of our realities and experience. We then, seemingly, spend the rest of our lives trying to reconcile this schism. We constantly ask ‘where does this self reside’, ‘who am I’ and ‘how do I see myself?’ Pivotal to how we understand this notion is the matter of ‘other’, the being outside of self.
Contemporary theory in Art and Philosophy has abandoned the notion of the resolute and essentialist self in favour of a more dialogical understanding what it means to ‘be’. Instead of having a concrete self, it is important to understand that we move through many states of being and as a result present a variety of selves throughout our lives and these are very much dependent on the situations we find ourselves. We are never ever one true self. As Marquez implies in the quote above it is more important to view the instances in which we are continuously ‘born’ and interact with the world. Some of these interactions are not as comfortable as one might assume them to be. The exhibition “Inner Nature” explores this notion by providing moments of contemplation on the matter of self ‘and’ other and self ‘as’ other often in a confrontational way with portraits and bodies that stare directly back at the viewer, or with bodies offering themselves up for a violators gaze. Within an African context, we can reflect on a post-colonial history as contributing to an even more complicated sense of ‘self’ once we acknowledge notions of Ubuntu and more so, Diaspora. The artists on show have presented moments for us to dwell on these discourses, be they about Gender, Race, Sexuality or Tradition and Nation culture. There are no answers to such questions in these works but there are new and interesting ways in which we can hold the mirror up to our ‘selves’, in whatever state they may be.
Vulindlela Nyoni 2015
Conrad Botes | Richard Butler Bowden | Paris Brummer | Larita Engelbrecht | Greg Lourens | Zemba Luzamba | Akhona Lunika | Colbert Mashile | Neo Matloga | Sikhumbuzo Makandula | Pebofatso Mokoena | Thandiwe Msebenzi | Walter Oltmann | Roelof Van Wyk